The thing about running is it is a very goal-based activity and that’s why many of us are drawn to it. We choose a goal, we train hard towards said goal, we race it and we learn from it. In this time of uncertainty, it has left many of us runners at a loss in regards to motivation and goals and therefore focus in our training. What should we do? Since all of the goal races have been cancelled—it is time to embrace the time trial.
A time trial is basically a solo race and since we are all about the solo running right now the time trial fits in perfect. And the bonus is there is lots to be gained from it. Also, with a lot of races going virtual, it’s a great opportunity to still support the races you love while doing your time trial.
How to go about the time trial challenge.
Choose a distance you can manage. I would suggest 5km or 10km. Pick out a route you know that you will be able to replicate, and you also will not be stopped throughout the route (but that you can run safely). For instance, avoid traffic lights and busy streets. Go run the route as if you were in a race (so as hard as you can). Record the time. Spend 4-8 weeks with focused training for that distance and then go run it again. This way, it is still giving you a goal to work towards and, since you’re already trained for your spring races, it will help you maintain fitness for when races return.
Here are some benefits for doing a time trial as the result of your training .
1. Increase your speed.
I find as marathon runners, we get caught in a cycle of basically doing the same training over and over again and expecting a different result (the definition of insanity). And, yes, with practice you will get better, but an even better way to get better is to challenge yourself in a new way.
Athletes focused on the marathon can gain a lot from working on some shorter speed. Do this consistently.
At the end of the day, if your upper-end speed increases so do the rest of your paces inclusive of your marathon pace 😉
2. Preserve your immune system.
Obviously the key right now is staying healthy. The bonus of the shorter workouts and distances means it is a little less taxing to the system as whole.
However, if you are starting to feel run down in any way EASE OFF the training. Now is not the time to be pushing through.
3. Enjoy a gentler recovery time.
If you were to continue marathon training now, and indefinitely, it means there will also need to be a long recovery period before you can get back to real marathon training again. Fingers crossed, marathons will take place in the fall and you want to be able to work your hardest for Chicago or STWM or whatever you’re running—when the time is right.
4. Change up your routine.
When was the last time you did some serious speed work? And if you do it weekly, when was the last time you did it when it counted, in a race?
Well, now is the time. The body responds well when it is forced to adapt to a new stimulus and time trials could be that key to unlock some potential (and break up the boredom!)
5. Practice pushing yourself.
Often times I find runners rely on other runners, or a PB they are chasing, or a Boston qualifying time, to really push themselves. But learning how to push yourself can give you a huge advantage come race day.
In races, if you can rely on yourself for that push you need and not a pacer or other runners, you are going to find a whole new level of fast.
6. Remember your why.
Now is the perfect time to take a step back and remember why you are running. Or maybe even discover your why for running. A time trial will spice things up, take you out of your comfort zone, and rekindle your romance with our sport.
7. Have fun.
With no upcoming physical start lines there is NO pressure on this training, so have fun with it! And be sure to smile and wave to those other runners out there—from 2m away of course!
To follow Dr. Brittany Moran on Instagram, see @TORunningChiro, and visit her website: www.torunningchiro.com.